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Architecture: American Express House

November 17, 2010

Cox Richardson and Crone Partners collaborate on the American Express headquarters, designed to decrease sunlight reflectivity.

The site for American Express House, located adjacent to a bend in Sydney’s elevated Western Distributor freeway, slices through the western side of the city’s CBD. As a result, the building is experienced at speed by large numbers of passing motorists.

The position of the building in relation to the freeway would have reflected sunlight directly into passing drivers’ eyes, so the architects introduced vertical blades on the eastern façade to mitigate reflection, with deeper blades where there is a greater reflectivity. Determined by a specialist study, the design creates a “contour map” emphasised by changes in colour saturation – giving the exterior a graded orange colour. The blades also reduce external solar loads in the morning sun and provide a psychological buffer zone for workers near the façade.

ESD initiatives in the scheme include fixed and operable external sun shading devices on the northern and western façades. These are targeted to the small areas receiving major heat loads after allowance for the overshadowing effect of adjacent buildings. In combination with high efficiency lighting and mechanical systems, the building is designed to achieve a 4.5 Star Nabers Rating.

The building foyer opens onto a through-site link activated by cafés and water features with direct connections to the public plaza in the space beneath the distributor and through adjacent sites to Wynyard Train Station. This through-site link is protected by a glazed awning that spans across to the adjacent KPMG building.

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